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Monday, 20 December 1993
Page: 5320


Senator CAMPBELL (9.14 p.m.) —It is a serious matter and we do not really need to go to the extreme of a it-will-never-happen third party insurance example. There are examples, which the government should look at, in projects such as Marandoo, a project that has been 15 years in gestation, the Mount Keith nickel development and, I am informed, the Thai West mineral sands development. All of those are massive resource developments which have had a long foundation period, in some cases taking up to 10 to 15 years to get them through. In the case of Marandoo, it took three years just to get through the environmental impact studies and, against the best efforts of Senator John Coulter and some of the other people, finally get it improved.

  It is quite possible in each of those cases to have all the approvals in place. Then, because the iron ore or nickel market goes bad, as in the case of Mount Keith, or the rutile or titanium market goes bad, as in the case of the Thai West mineral sands project, all of a sudden they do not want to proceed until things go well. In each of those projects, under the current approvals regime, a process can be put in place to get the state development approval held over until economic conditions change.

  There are also examples of other disasters. Natural disasters could occur in a range of industries, which could create this set of circumstances. It is not a far off prospect; it is real world. It is not impossible for a massive iron ore project to go through all of the processes, and the added processes under this native title legislation, and find that, due to a range of circumstances, the state may not wish to proceed. Clearly, to have to go through the whole process again two or three years down the track would be an even greater disincentive to economic development. It is positive for us to see that the minister is taking it on board, but I would not say that it is a flippant point. I think that Senator Vanstone has made a very good point. It is of specific interest to the state of Western Australia.